Children among victims as more than 20 people killed after gunman opened fire at US church
A man opened fire inside a church in a small South Texas community on Sunday, killing more than 20 people, including children, and wounding at least 20 others.
Authorities said the man walked into the First Baptist Church, a white, wood-framed building, during the morning service and began shooting at the 50-strong congregation.
Authorities have not confirmed the number of fatalities, but a Wilson County commissioner, Albert Gamez, said he was told by emergency officials that more than 20 people were slain and more than 20 others were wounded. Other reports put the number of dead at 27.
Wilson County Sheriff Joe Tackitt told the Wilson County News that the gunman was then "taken down" after fleeing the scene of the massacre in Sutherland Springs.
Emergency services converged on the church in the small town south east of San Antonio and helicopters were taking victims to hospitals.
A woman who was working close to the church said that the mass-shooting "doesn't make sense."
Carrie Matula told MSNBC: "It's a small Baptist church. It’s an older building. I don’t know that they would have security cameras or anything high tech like that. And I know they didn’t have security in the parking lot.
"I never thought it would happen here. "
"This is something that happens in a big city. I would never have thought this would have taken place here. It's just too tight a community. It doesn’t make sense."
A woman who lives about 10 minutes away from Sutherland Springs in Floresville and was monitoring the chaos on a police scanner and in Facebook community groups, said that everyone knows everyone in the sparsely populated county.
"This is horrific for our tiny little tight-knit town," said Alena Berlanga. "Everybody's going to be affected and everybody knows someone who's affected," she said.
US President Donald Trump tweeted from Japan, where he is at the start of a 12-day Asia trip, that he is monitoring the situation in Texas.
He said: "May God be with the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI and law enforcement are on the scene.
"I am monitoring the situation from Japan."
May God be w/ the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas. The FBI & law enforcement are on the scene. I am monitoring the situation from Japan.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2017
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has condemned the shooting as an "evil act."
He said in a statement: "While the details of this horrific act are still under investigation, Cecilia and I want to send our sincerest thoughts and prayers to all those who have been affected by this evil act.
"I want to thank law enforcement for their response and ask that all Texans pray for the Sutherlands Springs community during this time of mourning and loss."
One hospital in Floresville, Texas, about 10 miles from the shooting, said they were treating "multiple" victims with gunshot wounds.
Connally Memorial Medical Centre spokeswoman Megan Posey declined to say how many patients were being treated at the hospital, but said the number was less than a dozen.
- More to follow...